Last week hunter education instructors across the state began receiving letters from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) informing them they must begin posting facilities where courses are held against lawful carry.
This posting will make it illegal for anyone to possess firearms on the premises, whether or not they are participating in the course. This creates logistic problems for many ranges that freely offer facilities for hunter education classes, as facilities are used by non-participating members for other purposes.
The mere appearance of such signs has become offensive to those who value Second Amendment rights and recognize that we are responsible for self-defense at all times, everywhere we go. NCWRC should have been more sensitive to these issues, and sought input before demanding the display of distasteful signage.
Apparently what precipitated NCWRC's sudden desire for posting was a hunter safety participant surprised by being asked to disarm during a course. NCWRC claims that it is only trying to enforce a 10 year-old policy, and that NRA has a similar “no loaded firearms” policy during training classes.
While it may be reasonable to enforce a “no loaded firearm/no ammunition” policy when conducting training with firearms that are carried defensively, forcing those with defensive handguns to disarm while inoperable shotguns and rifles are demonstrated doesn't pass the commonsense test.
If the goal is safety, forcing people to disarm and handle otherwise safely holstered handguns in parking lots seems to be exactly what should not be promoted, not to mention it unnecessarily creates defenselessness.
GRNC has valued a positive relationship with NCWRC in the past and we have worked together to pass pro-hunting legislation through the Assembly. The hunter safety education program is critically important, and until now is something that every North Carolinian could be proud of.
We don't want this essential educational program to be compromised by ill-advised enforcement of rules for the sake of enforcing rules that actually decrease safety of participants. Our advice to NCWRC is to ask instructors to remind attendees that if they are carrying defensive weapons to not handle them for any reason other than an emergency during the course. No operable firearms or ammunition will be handled during the course. If a sign is felt necessary, this language could replace the offensive and legally-binding “gun buster” sign originally provided.
For the hundreds of instructors and participants of the course across the state who understand how important the educational mission is, we cannot in good conscience advise you to comply with allowing yourselves to be disarmed, or to post your facilities against lawful carry.
Hopefully NCWRC will consider the problems associated with their posting policy, and appropriately revise it. Let's encourage them to do so.